What a beautiful day for a sloppy wet Iowa thunderstorm 5k!!
Jodi and I went out in a little bit of rain, but it soon turned to a lotta bit of rain! In fact, at one point it was raining so hard that we couldn’t even see the next step in front of us.
I was actually scared.
Thunder was rolling all around us. Lighting was flashing to the left and to the right. And still we trudged through (praying for safety every step of the way).
What a fantastic way to celebrate our fourteenth anniversary!
As a family, we have settled in for a couple of days in Iowa. I am speaking at a Christian high school chapel service today and tomorrow, and will be putting on a bit of a program tonight and tomorrow at a church next to the school. We are so excited to be here as a family, but it is making it slightly difficult to figure out where our daily 5k fits in.
For all of the reasons listed above, today was a good day for “three point one and done!” I would have loved to go for a long run today and explore the area, but it just was not meant to be!
Aside from today being our anniversary, and having a full schedule, today is an exciting day for another reason, also… reading 3 chapters per day has put us into the Gospel of Mark today. We officially finish the last chapter of Matthew and jump into the first two chapters of Mark today.
I love that the four Gospels each record a different perspective of the events of Jesus’ life. Matthew and Mark are very similar, but also have their differences. Most scholars believe that the apostle Peter was very instrumental in helping Mark write the Gospel of Mark.
Peter, of course, was was of the “inner three” with James and John, so his insight and recollection concerning the life and ministry of Jesus comes with a lot of first-hand knowledge. I’m looking forward to digging in deeper for the next several days.
Today, however, I am hung up on the end of Matthew.
Imagine that you died.
Morbid, I know, but just for the sake of this exercise go ahead and imagine that you died, but also that you came back from the dead and had a few days to spend with those whom you loved.
What would you say to them?
Would it be important? How important?
Would you share trivial or significant information?
In Matthew 28, we have this exact scenario playing out with Jesus coming back from the dead and speaking to his disciples. So what did he say?
According to Matthew, he spoke three powerful sentences:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
It is hard to overstate the importance of these three sentences. Let’s look at them one at a time…
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
It is finished! Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, but his death was meaningless if it did not accomplish that purpose. In the resurrection we have proof that God was satisfied with the sacrifice. Now, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. This means that he is not only savior, but conclusively LORD. You could almost paraphrase this sentence as, “Hey, listen to me, I am the boss of the world.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Notice the “therefore”. What is the “therefore” there for?
Because he has been given all authority in heaven and earth, which he established in the first sentence, the job that he is about to issue is of absolute importance. The boss of the world has a job for us to do. It is not negotiable.
What is this job?
We are to make disciples of all nations. Or more plainly, we have been given the task of making disciples of people from all nations.
We have been given the job of baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In this task, we are shown that Jesus (the Son) is on equal ground with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Three are One.
The task of making disciples includes not just the conversion, but also the teaching of everything that Jesus commanded. This teaching is not just a sit-and-listen-while-I-talk teaching, but actual observance -which means the action or practice of fulfilling. So we don’t just teach knowledge -we teach application.
Again, this is coming from the boss of the world! It is really not negotiable.
Do you remember a few moments ago when I asked what you would say to the people that you loved if you died but came back from the dead long enough to tell them something? Do you remember thinking that you would tell them something of utmost importance? Well, that is exactly what Jesus is doing here.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is an interested statement. “And behold…” Another popular translation says, “And surely…” Another says, “Therefore…”
I often read from the MESSAGE translation, which is really more of a paraphrase of the Bible rather than an actual translation. I typically tell people that the MESSAGE is great for reading, but not great for studying. I make one huge exception to that general rule.
In the MESSAGE, this sentence begins with “I’ll be with you as you do this…”
I really believe that this is the best translation of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 28.
We often use Matthew 28:20 as a reminder that Jesus is always with us. Since we know that Jesus is God and God is omnipresent, it is accurate to say that Jesus is always with us, but I don’t believe that is what Matthew 28:20 is communicating.
Rather, I believe that Jesus is talking about a very different type of being with us.
If you go to a baseball game with your dad and you are both watching the game from the stands, your dad is with you. However, if you are actually physically learning how to throw a baseball and your dad is teaching you how to throw the baseball, showing you how to hold it, when to release it, how to step, how to follow-through, how to aim, etc… and he is congratulating good throws and correcting bad throws, at that moment your dad is more than just with you. At that point your dad is with you.
This, I believe, is the promise that Jesus is giving at the end of Matthew 28. He is the boss. He has given us a job. As we do the job, he will be with us!
Are you experiencing a lack of closeness with Jesus, but you are confused about that because you know he is always with you? Perhaps you are trying to be with him like you are with your dad at a baseball game. Perhaps it is time to actually get in the game yourself, and to experience what it is like for Jesus to not only be with you, but to really be with you.
After all, the boss man has given us a job to do.